Thursday, September 15, 2011

The 49th Parallel

In 1941, that genius creative filmmaking team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger released The 49th Parallel, starring Laurence Olivier, Anton Walbrook, Leslie Howard, Glynis Johns, and Raymond Massey ( the only true Canadian among the cast ). 

It's the story of a German U-Boat that gets stranded in northern Canada and of the crew ( with Eric Portman as their leader ) who attempt to escape across the border - the 49th parellel - into the still nuetral USA before getting captured.

The movie is made up of the various encounters these Nazi come against during their trek to safety, the first being with a group of fishing villagers - among them Laurence Olivier, a settlement of Hutterites, a lone artist camping in the wilderness, and last but not least, a proud Canadian ( Raymond Massey of course ).

The filmography, like all Powell/Pressburger films, is breathtaking.... especially one particular scene, when Glynis Johns is out in the fields harvesting wheat. But it's the music that I really enjoy about The 49th Parallel. Composed by Ralph Vaughn Williams, his score is dramatic, romantic, powerful and sweeping all at once. It's carries you to the pinnacles of those gorgeous mountains which are featured in its credits.  

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